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Traxo on Thursday announced deals with the U.K.'s Advantage Travel Partnership and Win Global Travel Network to allow the consortia to offer their clients a tool that tracks program leakage and gives greater visibility on their travelers' movements in times of crisis.
Traxo for TMCs will enable the corporations to share all of their traveler's booking data with their TMCs in real time, including for bookings that are made outside the TMC channel. The deals with Advantage and Win—European firsts for the technology company—were announced at Thursday's virtual BTN Global Travel Risk Summit Europe.
Traxo CEO Andres Fabris said that when the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns started, many corporate travel managers and TMCs realized they had serious gaps in their business travel data.
"Despite company policy, employees inevitably had booked their travel 'out-of-policy' or 'off-channel,' and therefore, that booking data was invisible during this critical time. As a result, companies had no idea if their employees were stuck in a country that had just closed its borders or had recently returned from a virus 'hot spot,' and needed to be quarantined. Basically, all the missing travel bookings created a last-minute duty-of-care crisis," he said.
Advantage Travel Partnership CEO Julia Lo Bue-Said added, "Duty of care is higher than ever on travel managers' agendas, and therefore it's absolutely invaluable for TMCs to be aware of their clients' employees' travel itineraries in real time, regardless of whether they were booked by the TMC or not."
The idea of using technology to capture bookings that have been made by travelers outside policy is not new—KDS Maverick, SAP Concur's Triplink and the browser plug-in Shep have been around for some time.
Unlike these other tools, Traxo for TMCs is installed onto a corporate's mail server. When a traveler makes a booking on a supplier website or through an aggregator, the corporate receives a copy of confirmation emails that are issued. This means travelers do not need to forward these emails manually or connect the tool to their loyalty programs; the Traxo system recognizes confirmation emails from thousands of suppliers.
"Our system works because no action is required by the traveler. It captures all of the bookings as they are occurring," said Fabris.
The non-TMC data is folded together with bookings through the TMC and the combined booking and spend data is instantly available to the corporate's TMC via online reporting tools and API integration. The TMC can then consolidate that additional data into their own applications, analytics, reporting and support services as desired.
Sonia Michaels, corporate relationship manager at Advantage, said the deal has been put together with its TMC strategy group, which includes Click Travel, Gray Dawes, Blue Cube, Fello and TAG.
"We have been concentrating our efforts so that our members have everything they need to meet the changing demands of travel management," she said.
"Duty of care has always been high on the agenda, but what happened in the pandemic is that it highlighted a gap. Leakage has always been a big issue, and what Traxo does is allow the company and the TMC to have formal visibility to let them manage the travel program fully."
"From our members' point of view, it allows them to evolve the TMC proposition. Corporates are going to need and want a full end-to-end service from the TMC."
The idea of capturing booking data invisibly might raise eyebrows over privacy.
"From the very beginning, the safety and security of the data has been paramount. Traxo for TMCs is GDPR-compliant," said Fabris.
"We have worked with Europe-based privacy lawyers to help companies understand how they balance employee safety and privacy. It turns out that within GDPR there are acceptable uses when the employee's safety is at risk. It is very clear that in those situations, the company must err on the side of employee safety."
"We have also set up a European data center in case our European clients want all of the data to be processed in the EU," he said.
As well as the duty-of-care angle, Fabris said the tool would also allow travel managers to get better visibility of spend and use the data to negotiate using the data for volume that was previously considered to be direct consumer traffic but is actually rogue corporate spend.
The tool will also allow corporates to take action if the available rates fall after a traveler has made their booking. If a corporate is monitoring market rates using reshopping technology, such as TripBam, they can go back to the traveler to suggest rebooking at the lower rate.
Traxo for TMCs works on a hybrid subscription model with three levels of monthly fee that include a set number of transactions with an overage charge if the number of transactions exceeds that limit.
In this year's Leading 50 TMCs ranking, Advantage, which has more than 200 TMC members, said it managed £3.5 billion in business travel spend for its members. Win has around 6,000 TMC member locations in 75 countries. Advantage and Win managed a total annual travel spend of more than US$15 billion in 2019.
Originally published in BTN Europe.
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